Title favorites face tricky early schedule at Australian Open

Ross Houston
January 10, 2019

Nadal will meet Australian wild card James Duckworth in his opening clash, with Kevin Anderson, John Isner and Grigor Dimitrov all in his quarter of the draw.

"I always have tried to remind myself that this is a dream", Federer said of his longevity at the draw ceremony held at Margaret Court Arena, where he discovered the world number 99 would be his opening opponent.

No. 4 Alexander Zverev is in the same half and looms in the semifinals if both players advance that far. And with No. 6 Marin Cilic in the same quarter, there's potential for a rematch of the 2018 final a few rounds early.


Federer's first-round test comes in the shape of Istomin, an Uzbek whom Federer has defeated in each of their six meetings, and they are in the same quarter of the draw as Andy Murray, who is unseeded and meets Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut first up. But being so close, I'll give it a go.

Murray won only two games in an incomplete practice match with Djokovic at Melbourne Park, showing signs he's still not fully fit after spending most of the last 18 months off the tour. If it would happen defending this title, I would gladly accept it.

World number one Djokovic, who produced a strong comeback a year ago, was the top seed of men's singles.


Serena Williams will face Tatjana Maria in the first round, and could meet either Genie Bouchard or Peng Shaui in the second round.

Halep, however, may be reluctant to look beyond the first round, having drawn her U.S. Open nemesis Kaia Kanepi.

"I always enjoy my matches against him", 20-time grand slam victor Federer said at the draw. One more here would see him follow Jimmy Connors as the only man in the Open era to hit three figures, as well as taking him past Djokovic and Roy Emerson at Melbourne Park. For me it's just taking it day by day, doing the right things, taking even better care of my body.


The 1:30pm practice match was free to the public between the two who have met four times in the Australian Open final.

Other reports by iNewsToday

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER